Beowulf Analysis

Decent Essays

Knowing Your Place
In the poem Beowulf, the author shifts from Beowulf being an orphan to being a king, by incorporating underlying themes such as strength and skill, identity, and shift in power to demonstrate the importance of social structure and the adherence to the comitatus code between noblemen and thanes. The most important literary element that the poet utilizes is strength and skill for the reason that the better you are in combat the more respected you are and the greater your rewards. One of the first examples of the comitatus code in Beowulf occurs when Beowulf responds to King Hrothgar’s call for help. King Hrothgar would like peace restored to his kingdom, but thus far this has proven to be impossible. Wreaking havoc on his …show more content…

According to the comitatus code, a thane’s worth is proven by their strength and skill.
As a result of Beowulf's success, the author uses the theme of identity to build on the importance of social structure and the important bond of the comitatus code. Beowulf was famous for his exploits and was seen as one of the best in the land. Threatening Beowulf's reputation, Unferth says he is too boastful and has a “worse fate” coming for him (10). Beowulf, defending his image, says that Unferth is “drunken as thou art with beer” and tells his version of the story (10). Unferth probably tried to demean Beowulf because he was jealous and felt that his own reputation as a warrior was at stake thus illustrating how important image is to the characters and how they want to be the best of their class. It is clear that strength and skill, and identity feed off of each other given that victory in battle increases the worth of one's reputation. Beowulf wages war against three monsters during this poem. After his first victory against Grendel, he proved his character while gaining popularity, respect, and treasure. The praise of King Hrothgar represents the bond of the comitatus code when he states, “Now Beowulf, best of men, I will love you in my heart like a son; keep to our new kinship from this day on” ( ). Unferth, who criticized him the day before

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